Last year, our portrait of enterprise IT in Canada revealed that cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI) were the two top priorities of Canadian businesses. One year and several major data breaches and cyberattacks later, where are Canadian companies at? Contrary to expectations, they aren’t rushing to beef up their security practices. The 2020 issue of our study paints a worrisome picture of this critical issue for Canadian businesses. It also takes stock of the priorities organizations have set in areas like AI, cloud computing, IT talent recruitment, and more. 

Businesses are vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches

Data thefts and breaches, viruses, and attacks of all kinds earned cybersecurity more than its share of headlines in 2019. Data breaches in the banking industry also highlighted how vulnerable businesses are to IT threats, providing good reason to question how much importance Canadian companies accord to cybersecurity.

Our study shows that 38% of companies in the financial sector have not reviewed their in-house practices for protecting against cyber threats. On average, fewer than half (48%) of companies across all sectors have upgraded their existing processes. This is all the more worrisome given that 37% of businesses were targeted by cyberattacks this past year, up sharply from the previous year’s 28%. It’s worth noting that Quebec is the province with the highest proportion of businesses to have reviewed their security practices.

 Percentage of businesses, by region, that reviewed their practices following a cyberattack last year

 

What is the main source of risk? Fully 32% of business leaders surveyed reported that employees were the main source of risk. Experience has taught me that they are probably right. We underestimate the amount of sensitive information our employees handle. And in many cases, data breaches result from unintentional actions on their part. The consequences, however, are all too real. Better preventive procedures and more employee training would allow organizations to better protect themselves in this regard.

Interest in AI is up moderately

While virtually all Canadian businesses agree that artificial intelligence will have an impact on their industry, not all are inclined to invest in AI in the short term, with only 36% reporting plans to invest within the next two years. In fact, Canadian businesses underestimate how much they use AI. While AI is generally associated with increasing productivity and reducing operating costs, it is also a core component of many security solutions used to defend against cyberattacks.

And the labour shortage?

Even though the tight labour market is causing headaches across the country, especially in Quebec, it’s interesting to note that businesses are faring relatively well when it comes to attracting and retaining IT specialists. For example, 64% of companies report not having any problems retaining their data scientists, up 8% over last year’s survey. We found that the situation had improved in most IT job fields. These encouraging signs aren’t so surprising, especially in Quebec, given that Montreal boasts the highest concentration of AI researchers in the world and ranks among Canada’s top five cities for tech talent. Generally speaking, the IT industry seems to be less affected by the labour shortage than other industries.

Ease of attracting employees by field of employment

 

Of course challenges still remain. Cybersecurity is sure to be a central concern for businesses in the months ahead. In 2020, let’s hope that organizations take the necessary steps to fulfil their goals and optimize their protection. Thank you for your trust in NOVIPRO and best wishes for the new year!

ABOUT THE 2019 NOVIPRO/LÉGER SURVEY
This fourth portrait was conducted from September 23 to October 23, 2019 among 496 respondents (300 IT decisionmakers and 196 from other sectors) from Canadian companies. Most respondents are men (70%) working full time (96%) in a medium-sized business (100 to 499 employees - 43%) or a large company (500 or more employees - 55%).

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